‘The trauma of finding out and then holding your body in labor haunts my nights’: Ashley Judd describes cradling her mother Naomi as she died
- Country star Naomi Judd was still alive when her daughter Ashley found her with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to her head
- In a heartbreaking New York Times essay, Ashley described how finding her mother after her suicide in April was “the most upsetting day of my life”.
- Instead of being able to comfort her mother in her final moment, Ashley said officers questioned her and kept her away from Naomi.
Country star Naomi Judd was still alive when her daughter Ashley found her with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
In a heartbreaking New York Times essay, Ashley described how finding her mother after her suicide in April was “the most upsetting day of my life”.
“The trauma of discovering and then holding his body in labor haunts my nights,” she wrote.
But instead of being able to comfort Naomi in her final moments, Ashley said the officers harshly interrogated her and took her away from her mother.
“I felt trapped and helpless as law enforcement officers began questioning me as my mother’s last life faded away,” she wrote. ‘I wanted to comfort her, tell her how she was about to see her father and younger brother as she ‘went home,’ as they say in Appalachia.’
Ashley revealed the heartbreaking details while announcing that she was undertaking a “legal cause” to prevent the public from having access to police records in sensitive and intimate personal situations.
“I intend to make the subsequent invasion of privacy – the privacy of the deceased and the privacy of the family – a personal and legal cause,” she wrote.
Naomi died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in April 2022 at the age of 76, the Nashville Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed last week.
According to the report, Judd battled “significant” anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.
Ashley Judd (left) with her mother Naomi Judd (right). Ashley and her family have filed a motion to seal police records of interviews taken in the moments after Naomi’s suicide last April
The country superstar died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in April 2022 aged 76
Ashley said she was in such shock after finding her mother dying that she answered police questions “I would never have answered any other day” and never thought to wonder if the public would later have access to it.
“Immediately after a tragedy that has turned our lives upside down, when we are in a state of acute shock, trauma, panic and distress, the authorities come forward to talk to us,” she wrote, “because many of us are socially conditioned to cooperate with law enforcement, we are totally reckless in what we say.
“I never thought to ask my own questions, including: Is your body camera turned on? Am I being audio recorded again? Where and how will what I share be stored, used and updated? available to the public?
Ashley said she did not blame the officers at the scene for their approach, but instead blamed the “terrible and outdated housekeeping procedures and methods of interacting with shocked family members or traumatized”, which she assumed they had learned.
“The men who were present left us feeling stripped of any sensitive boundaries, questioned and, in my case, as if I was a possible suspect in my mother’s suicide.”
She argued that recordings of statements made in times of distress when people lack the ability to consider whether they could be made public should be kept confidential, saying current laws ‘re-victimize’ family members .
“Family members who have lost a loved one are often re-victimized by laws that can expose their most private moments to the public.”
Ashley Judd (left) with her mother Naomi Judd (centre) and sister Wynonna Judd (right)
Ashley said she and her family filed a motion in early August asking the courts not to release documents from her mother’s suicide inquest.
She asked the courts to seal the “interviews the police conducted with us at a time when we were most vulnerable and least able to understand that what we shared so freely that day could enter the public domain. “.
“This deeply intimate personal and medical information has no place in the press, on the internet or anywhere else except in our memories.”
She noted that the request was not made to hide family secrets, but to protect her mother’s dignity and to save her family from further harm.
“We ask because privacy in death is death with more dignity,” she wrote, “And for those left behind, privacy avoids further burdening a family that is already definitively and painfully altered.”
Ashley Judd describes cradling mum Naomi as she died